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Helen

Great Cacapon, WV, United States | Member Since 2011

4
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 21 reviews
  • 26 ratings
  • 1 titles in library
  • 11 purchased in 2014
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  • The Casual Vacancy

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By J. K. Rowling
    • Narrated By Tom Hollander
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2715)
    Performance
    (2380)
    Story
    (2396)

    When Barry Fairweather dies unexpectedly in his early 40s, the little town of Pagford is left in shock. Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war. Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils.... Pagford is not what it at first seems. And the empty seat left by Barry on the town's council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen.

    cristina says: "I was surprised by how much I liked it"
    "More than I expected!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What made the experience of listening to The Casual Vacancy the most enjoyable?

    At first I found the characters to be too everyday...too ordinary. There were no heroes, no one was glamorous or brilliant. But, one by one, each character became part of a fascinating tragedy. Everyone had a public side. Everyone had a private side. And the ways in which the characters related to one another were always complex and often heartbreaking.


    What other book might you compare The Casual Vacancy to and why?

    I doubt if anyone else will think of Jane Austen, but that's what came to mind. J.K. Rowling simply wrote about ordinary people involved in everyday events. And what a tangled web she wove! The characters became quite compelling. I'm still thinking about them weeks after finishing the program.


    What does Tom Hollander bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    I liked the reader very much. He brought the voices to life without slowing the narrative.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    I once thought as I listened that an alternative title would be "The Ghost of Barry Fairbrother"


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Hiding Place

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By Corrie ten Boom, John Sherrill, Elizabeth Sherrill
    • Narrated By Wanda McCaddon
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (264)
    Performance
    (237)
    Story
    (240)

    At one time, Corrie ten Boom would have laughed at the idea that she had a story to tell. For the first 50 years of her life, nothing out of the ordinary ever happened to her. She was a spinster watchmaker living contentedly with her sister and their elderly father in the tiny house over their shop in Haarlem. Their uneventful days, as regulated as their own watches, revolved around their abiding love for one another. But with the Nazi invasion and occupation of Holland, everything changed....

    Christina says: "My new guilty pleasure"
    "Powerful and radiant with faith"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The story had details of agony and misery that might not be something everyone would choose to experience. The book was recommended to me by a Dutch friend who lived through the German occupation. She wanted me to understand the circumstances surrounding her early years. For her sake, I was glad to read it. But...oh....the layers and layers of faith and prayer that served the main characters so well. Would the writer have survived had her Christian convictions not been so firm? I was both drawn and repelled by some of the simplistic views of Corrie and her sister Betsy. I am still mulling over how I would have responded to their ministry in the concentration camp. The reader has an air of missionary goodness in her tone. I'm sure it matches the intent of the writer.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Son: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By Jo Nesbø
    • Narrated By Gildart Jackson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (291)
    Performance
    (267)
    Story
    (263)

    Sonny Lofthus is a strangely charismatic and complacent young man. Sonny’s been in prison for a dozen years, nearly half his life. The inmates who seek out his uncanny abilities to soothe leave his cell feeling absolved. They don’t know or care that Sonny has a serious heroin habit - or where or how he gets his uninterrupted supply of the drug. Or that he’s serving time for other peoples’ crimes. Sonny took the first steps toward addiction when his father took his own life rather than face exposure as a corrupt cop. Now Sonny is the seemingly malleable center of a whole infrastructure of corruption....

    Mary says: "Much more than I expected!"
    "Nesbo just gets better"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This one has it all. The characters are well drawn with individual flaws and strengths. The son is at once a lethal threat, a just presence in an unjust world, a tender lover, and an abused and wounded child-man. One grieves for him at the same time one is appalled by the cruelty of his vengeance. The plot twist at the end of the novel simply amplifies the injustice under which he has suffered. And yet, the ending is a sweet reward for all endured.

    Even without Harry Hole, Nesbo satisfies his devoted readers.

    The reader is good, but I was a little put off by the female portrayals. They were a little too clipped and curt for my taste.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Police: A Harry Hole Novel, Book 10

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 37 mins)
    • By Jo Nesbø
    • Narrated By John Lee
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (505)
    Performance
    (432)
    Story
    (434)

    The police urgently need Harry Hole…. A killer is stalking Oslo's streets. Police officers are being slain at the scenes of crimes they once investigated but failed to solve. The murders are brutal, the media reaction hysterical. But this time, Harry can't help.... For years, detective Harry Hole has been at the center of every major criminal investigation in Oslo. His dedication to his job and his brilliant insights have saved the lives of countless people. But now, with those he loves most facing terrible danger, Harry is not in a position to protect anyone. Least of all himself...

    Charles Atkinson says: "Simply the Best Detective Series In any Language"
    "Read them all...this is a favorite."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Once again, Jo Nesbo succeeds in delivering just the right amount of gritty suspense and mayhem without sacrificing the loyal reader's bond with our beloved Harry. I was kept in breathless anticipation for Harry to...yet again...screw up his personal life. Or, even worse, die!
    I admire the way that the reader was led to suspect one after another character as the cop killer.....and then to be blind sided when the real murderer was revealed. Nice writing to pull that off! Nesbo at his best.
    So, have we said goodbye to Harry as he rides off into a happy future with Rakel and Oleg? Somehow I both doubt it...and hope NOT!
    Only negative on this book....I wasn't happy with the reader. I agree with other reviewers...bring back the previous series reader. I loved John Lee's reading of the Follett books for which a nice Welsh accent was a plus. But it just didn't work for this Norwegian cast of characters.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • A Short History of Nearly Everything

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Bill Bryson
    • Narrated By Richard Matthews
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (6618)
    Performance
    (2440)
    Story
    (2452)

    Bill Bryson has been an enormously popular author both for his travel books and for his books on the English language. Now, this beloved comic genius turns his attention to science. Although he doesn't know anything about the subject (at first), he is eager to learn, and takes information that he gets from the world's leading experts and explains it to us in a way that makes it exciting and relevant.

    Corby says: "Very informative, fun to listen to"
    "Grand review of the natural sciences"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I am a retired science educator. As such, I easily remember most of the names dropped into this narrative....like old friends. But finding them in one sweeping overview of the natural sciences was like a thrilling journey. In the hands of master story teller Bryson, the history became a lively tale of what is known, what is probable, and what is left to be discovered. I loved the book, and I know that I will listen again. I can't stop thinking about the way the planet has and will continue to change.
    I think I might have responded even better had it been read by someone with a less of a formal lecture style. But Richard Matthews gave a flawless performance.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • March

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By Geraldine Brooks
    • Narrated By Richard Easton
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (460)
    Performance
    (196)
    Story
    (199)

    As the North reels under a series of unexpected defeats during the dark first year of the war, one man leaves behind his family to aid the Union cause. His experiences will utterly change his marriage and challenge his most ardently held beliefs. Riveting and elegant as it is meticulously researched, March is an extraordinary novel woven out of the lore of American history.

    Paula says: "Great book, greatly narrated"
    "Better book than Little Women"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    As a girl, I tried...really tried...to like Little Women for my Mom's sake. I even received a set of dolls for Christmas, Jo, Meg, Amy, and Beth.I tried to treasure them like Mom did. Couldn't. The book was just too sweet and nicey nice.
    March was almost 180 degrees in the opposite direction. There was nothing "nice" about this character. He was kind of pathetic in his never ending lapses. He came close to being human, but seemed to lack the ability to get out of his academic, hopelessly idealistic dream world. Not even the interesting character Grace or his beleaguered wife Marmee (what an awful name!!!) could penetrate his shell.
    I thought the narrator adopted the perfect tone for March. While reciting the sometimes flowery phrases, he revealed the flaws that plagued him.
    Not my favorite book, but I'm glad I persisted. I liked the author's afterwords. Turns out she shared my feelings about Little Women. I'm grateful to her for bringing us March to improve my reactions to the entire package.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Book Thief

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 56 mins)
    • By Markus Zusak
    • Narrated By Allan Corduner
    Overall
    (7427)
    Performance
    (5659)
    Story
    (5673)

    It's just a small story really, about, among other things, a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak's groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can't resist: books.

    Shannon says: "Word Thief"
    "This one will stay with me forever"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    At first I resisted. I almost decided not to read yet another account of the misery of the great war. So much suffering, so much injustice and cruelty! Did I really want to go through this again from the point of view of yet another afflicted human being? But I stayed with it, and I am not only happy that I did, I am transformed by the narrative. The girl, the Papa, the cantankerous but loving Mama (who can forget the scene when Rose storms into the school to tell of Max's recovery?) and the Jew hidden in the cellar who clings to life for Liesel's sake...the characters will live on in my heart.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Faithful Spy

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By Alex Berenson
    • Narrated By Robertson Dean
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2195)
    Performance
    (836)
    Story
    (830)

    John Wells is the only American CIA agent ever to penetrate al Qaeda. Since before the attacks in 2001, Wells has been hiding in the mountains of Pakistan, biding his time, building his cover.

    Margaret says: "Faithful Spy"
    "Too Bloody for me"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I like a good thriller, and I can take a good measure of "blood and guts". But this one was over the top. There were too many scenes involving blood, brains, and bones being splattered all over the landscape. When this kind of violence becomes routine....I bail out. Sorry. Couldn't get through it.

    I thought the narrator was perfect for this very rough ride.

    I'm sure many will enjoy the experience. Just not my thing.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Portrait of a Lady

    • UNABRIDGED (23 hrs and 56 mins)
    • By Henry James
    • Narrated By John Wood
    Overall
    (205)
    Performance
    (139)
    Story
    (143)

    When Isabel Archer, a beautiful, spirited American, is brought to Europe by her wealthy aunt Touchett, it is expected that she will soon marry. But Isabel, resolved to enjoy the freedom that her fortune has opened up and to determine her own fate, does not hesitate to turn down two eligible suitors. It is only when she finds herself irresistibly drawn to the cultivated but worthless Gilbert Osmond that she discovers that wealth is a two-edged sword and that there is a price to be paid for independence.

    Linda says: "Brilliant reading"
    "Who are these people?"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    First of all I will say that the reader was very very good. Without his elegant and expressive cadence and with only a printed text, I would not have endured to the end. Second, on the plus side, I dusted off and vowed to use many antique vocabulary words..."desultory", "importune", "decorous", "prevaricate", "remonstrate"...to name but a few! The paragraphs were beautifully constructed and beautifully delivered by the reader.

    But! As I said in the title..."Who are these people?" They dined...but on what? Did they enjoy it? They died...but of what...and was there any pain beyond their melodramatic efforts to utter the final monologue? They fell in love...but no word of sexual attraction EVER entered the narrative. They spoke of beauty, but only of tapestry, statues, and interior decor. (Maybe an occasional sunset from the terrace). Were they ever too tired, too hot, too cold..? Isabelle has a child who died. All we hear about that was that she concluded mourning the child after 6 months and adjusted her wardrobe accordingly.

    I admit that I was finally swept up into their sterile lives and the utterly hopeless messes they made of them. I hoped for some kind of resolution for poor, pathetic Isabelle at the end, but when her "Mr. Darcy" in the person of Casper Goodwood finally planted a real KISS on her lips at the end (the first in the whole book)...she nearly fainted. The next day she hurried back to her horrid husband in Rome. The End.

    This novel makes anything by Jane Austen or Edith Wharton read like Lady Chatterly's Lover in comparison.

    All that said, I wouldn't have missed it for the World! Thank you for delivering this to me so elegantly, John Wood. I'll look for your narration again.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Secret Keeper

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Kate Morton
    • Narrated By Caroline Lee
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2800)
    Performance
    (2403)
    Story
    (2413)

    England, 1959: Laurel Nicolson is 16 years old, dreaming alone in her childhood tree house during a family celebration at their home, Green Acres Farm. She spies a stranger coming up the long road to the farm and then observes her mother, Dorothy, speaking to him. And then she witnesses a crime.

    Maria says: "Kate Morton (and Caroline Lee) does it again!"
    "Nice plot twist."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The story captured me from the beginning. I have an affinity for WWII based novels since I had several close relatives involved in the fighting. I especially admire the courage and tenacity of the British during the London blitz.

    I loved the way this plot developed....What did Mom do during the war? Who are the people in these photos? Was she a villain or a victim? So many questions to be answered...so little time since she is dying. There is a breathtaking plot twist at the end that I didn't see coming!

    The reader did an excellent job. I liked the way she developed the characters one by one.

    Very enjoyable. I will look for more by Kate Morton. (already read The House at Riverton)

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Fatal Affair

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By Marie Force
    • Narrated By Felicity Munroe
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (551)
    Performance
    (445)
    Story
    (451)

    Washington, D.C., Metro Police Detective Sergeant Sam Holland needs a big win to salvage her career - and her confidence - after a disastrous investigation. The perfect opportunity arises when Senator John O’Connor is found brutally murdered in his bed, and Sam is assigned to the case. Matters get complicated when Sam has to team up with Nick Cappuano, O’Connor’s friend and chief of staff...and the man Sam had a memorable one-night stand with years earlier. Their sexual chemistry still sizzles, and Sam has to fight to stay focused on the case.

    Lia says: "Wow! Suspenseful mysteries keep you riveted"
    "Not my kind of thrills"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I read the description of the plot and thought it sounded promising....but it delivered very little in terms of interesting twists and good cop drama. In fact, I was amused by the very sensitive and elaborate "bodice ripper' scenes that provided the only interesting "thrills" in an otherwise pretty bland narrative. Guess I should have guessed when I saw that Harlequin was the publisher. If you are into steamy scenes and don't care much about the plot line....go for it!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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